Plans to pedestrianise one of Accrington’s major roads could be a ‘disaster’, a trader has claimed.
The town is set to be transformed with £10m of investment after plans to move the bus station and revamp the town centre were approved.
A £6.4m scheme to relocate Accrington’s bus station to Crawshaw Street were given the green light last month, following a public enquiry.
Work on the area outside the town hall, which looks set to be pedestrianised and transformed into a town square, could begin in 2016.
A £3m Townscape Heritage Initiative grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will also be used to clean and restore 13 buildings along Blackburn Road with traditional features.
It is hoped the major changes will bring more shoppers to the town and boost the local economy.
But some traders have expressed concerns that the bus station move could suck trade away from Peel Street, Warner Street and the east of the town centre.
Mario Sarchaet, owner of Peters Jewellers, on Blackburn Road, said a lot of businesses could face closure.
He said: “I welcome any investment in Accrington. My concern is that they are going to pedestrianise Blackburn Road which will dramatically affect the traffic flow.
“The majority of businesses on the other side of the bus station seem to be the businesses that are surviving and managing to continue trading.
“This could wipe a lot of the traders out from these locations who can’t afford to relocate elsewhere. We will be left in a situation where Accrington is not attractive enough to bring in new business.
“I think it’s a disaster. I am really concerned that maybe up to 100 businesses on this end of town are not going to survive.”
Conservative group leader Coun Peter Britcliffe said he also has concerns about the closure of areas to traffic to create a town square.
He said: “It seems strange going to close off the town centre to move the bus station.
“There are a lot of business people in the town who are genuinely concerned.
“Moving the bus station out and at the same time going to restrict access to the town centre seems a strange thing to do.”
Coun Britcliffe said he also has concerns about the THI scheme and said a ‘thorough’ consultation process is essential before plans are finalised.
He said: “I think we need a total plan and what we have at the moment is a bitty plan.
“It seems to be a consultation with limited options.
“I know one trader who has moved out of the market because they are worried about what will happen to the town centre.”
But council leader Miles Parkinson said Coun Britcliffe strongly supported plans for a new bus station at Crawshaw Street when he was council leader and a county councillor.
He said: “To say the council hasn’t considered the impact on the shops is clearly inaccurate not only now, but back in 2008. Obviously the cuts make things a little more difficult, but we know why. It is of great credit to Hyndburn and the county that the bus station is now at last coming to fruition.”